Film is an amalgamation of every art form. It can capture concepts, imbue beauty, and express experience...and this is part of what Jo Harrison and Hanumantra of UN1TY have done with their new documentary. With the hopes of illustrating the importance of the actual tattooing event itself, as well as the process of collaboration, they created a film that embodies their working philosophies.
Jo Harrison was kind enough to tell us more about the footage, "...the people involved in the video are myself and my partner Hanumantra. We initially reached out to a film company, SMN Film, to document a collaborative back piece we were about to start. Thinking that with both of us having such distinctively contrasting styles it would be an interesting insight for viewers to see how we actually approach tattooing in a very similar way. Hanumantra and I share the feeling that within tattooing for a lot of people the main focus is the end product and they're willing sacrifice anything to arrive there. We believe that the process of getting the tattoo, as well as collaborating with the client to deliver the tattoo they want, is just as important as the end result."
Custom collaboration on a full back piece for a client can take a great deal of time and the film became longer once Jo and Hanumantra actually started the process. "As we spent time with the film makers they became fascinated with the tattoo and what Hanumantra and I were trying to achieve, not just in the skin but also in our environment. They started to ask more questions and the answers we provided only resulted in more questions. So, they suggested that we stretch the film out and give a much broader over view of what UN1TY Tattoo is and does and how and why Hanumantra and I work the way we do. We now have a series of short films that are part of a longer feature length."
Exploring the transformative, meditative and other powerful effects of tattooing, and tattoos, this documentary is partly a way to encapsulate one of their tattoo studios missions. "At UN1TY we don't just change the way people look, we change the way they view themselves. It's from empowering people in this way that the concept of UN1TY was born. We wanted to create an environment that would facilitate those seeking out a personal transformation. Where united in the journey of tattooing, the experience of receiving the tattoo is as memorable and lasting as the ink under the skin itself."
The finished film brings together ideas of past, present, and future, as well as the feeling of time suspension through creative flow. In one scene, Hanumantra describes what it feels like while he's working. "It doesn't really matter what going on outside, in your life. It's weird...when you start tattooing the noise disappears." Jo agrees saying, "Everything else just drops away." Both Jo and Hanumantra speak about their work in a way that highlights so many different aspects of creation, concentration, and collaboration. However, perhaps what is so absolutely inspiring and special about their work is that these artists are helping to bring back the ritual, the sacred, within tattooing. An experience that, at some point, may become even more important and beloved to the client than the actual tattoo itself.